Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lansing becomes a pioneer in Michigan, launching bike share program

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Capital Gains Media (Lansing, MI)
September 25, 2013

Bike SHARE PROGRAM IN LANSING, MI. Photo by Dave trumpie of Trumpie photography

When it seemed that the launch of a new bike share program in Lansing was starting off with a flat tire, Lynne Martinez was not in the least discouraged. The bike share program was initially to launch at the beginning of August, but a glitch in the bike locking mechanisms stalled the pilot.

“It will work. Chicago and New York were each a year behind their targeted launch dates. Much bigger and more complex systems. But this stuff is never easy,” says Martinez.

Martinez is principal of the Martinez Consulting Group, LLC, and now also a consultant to a new, nonprofit bike share program called Capital Community Bike Share (CCBS). For almost seven years, Martinez was a representative with the State of Michigan, serving on the House Appropriations Committee for Human Services, Community Health, Higher Education and Local Government. She understands her city and its needs.

“I have been active in the community for 30 years, helping Lansing grow,” says Martinez. “About two and a half years ago, I started to get interested in bike share programs. There are successful bike share programs in many large cities—Denver, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, and others. I thought this would be great for Lansing, too.”

Martinez found a major obstacle, however, as she investigated other bike share programs across the country: cost. All the successful bike share programs she found were in major cities with major budgets.

A bike share program places bicycles for public use at designated spots throughout the city, available for rental. Some use kiosks, or stations, where the bicycles are parked, ready for renters. A bike sharing program works in a similar fashion to Zipcars, a sharing program with cars that available for renters to pick up and drop off at their destinations, rented by the hour or by the day.

“I thought such a bike sharing program would be great for Lansing,” says Martinez. “It would encourage economic development, as bicyclists tend to make more stops along their routes than drivers. It’s good for the environment, too, reducing carbon emissions. But when I checked with some of these bike share companies, I found they were very expensive and wouldn’t work well for a mid-size or smaller city.”

The big companies weren’t a good fit for Lansing, but a small start-up in Ann Arbor, A2B Bikeshare, turned out to be ...


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